Campaign India Team
Mar 20, 2013

‘We’re seeing new, younger viewers coming on to the channel’

Q&A with Avinash Kaul, chief executive officer, ET Now, Times Now and Zoom on the performance of Times Television Network’s channels in 2012, roadmap for 2013 and more. Edited Excerpts:

‘We’re seeing new, younger viewers coming on to the channel’

How has the last one year been for Times Television Network’s channels  - Times Now, ET Now, Zoom?

It’s been good for all the three channels. The year, however, had its own challenges. The marketplace hasn’t been too kind in the last one year for the entire news category. Despite that, we’ve shown growth in an environment where growth is hard to come by in the news genre, clocking growth in both English as well as business news. 

The industry has been on a downward cycle because 2012 was a challenging year for all of us. Some of the reports going around say there was zero percent growth for television in calendar year 2012, with English news as a business registering negative growth. It’s also been a challenge from an environment perspective with respect to digitisation and a lot of regulations which happened in 2012.

Did major advertisers across three channels cut down spends, given that it wasn’t a good year?

It will be foolish to assume and say nothing happened and life was hunky-dory. The volumes in the business news segment was probably 15 per cent lower than last year across channels. In English general news also, volumes have been 8 to 10 percent lower than in 2011. Going forward, it depends on the confidence of the Indian economy because at the end of the day, if our clients’ business does well, it automatically means that our businesses will also do well.

We all know about car sales per cent dipping 27 per cent – the worst in the decade. All of this has an impact on the business in this category. Unlike GECs or mass channels where the dependence on FMCG is higher, our kind genre is less dependent on FMCG. Even in a bad year, people will still buy soap. In our genre, categories that advertise are automobile, telecom, banking and finance, gadgets and they all get impacted by a bad economic environment. So if top players from these genres get affected, our (news) genre will be affected automatically.

How’s ET Now placed vis-à-vis its nearest competitor (CNBC TV 18)?

The latest data says that for 26 weeks we’re equal at 42 per cent relative channel share (TAM Media Research, CS M 25 + AB, All India, 1 million +). On budget day we beat them on a full-day basis. You look at CS Male 25+ SEC A market, they are ahead by 2 per cent. In the younger age group, between 25 to 44 years, we’re at 50 per cent share, ahead of CNBC TV18 by 14 per cent. It’s in this age bracket that we’re seeing a lot of new viewers coming on to the channel. Since these are younger audiences, it is a good indication of our future.   

What is the ET Now differentiator?

The ET Now differentiator is the stock market. The number of recommendations that ET Now gives in any given week is double that of CNBC TV18. We also track a number of recommendations we give out and we see the success ratio. We have independent recommending analysts. This is tracked sector-by-sector, analyst-by-analyst and time band-by-time band. And that’s what we’re focusing on. That is the core DNA of the channel. I can’t comment too much on competition. But apart from us and CNBC TV18, nobody does it. 

How has the transition phase from analog to digital been for all the three channels – Zoom, ET Now and Times Now?

It’s been very good. We’ve held on to our households. In fact, we’ve have been growing in terms of the number of households we’re reaching out to. We are well posed to clock good growth in the calendar year 2013. 

What were the highpoints for Times Now in 2012?

Times Now continues to be a dominant leader in the English news segment. The channel is performing extremely well as far as viewership is concerned and revenues are concerned. News Hour continues to be the single most appointment viewing show in the country today. And that, on an average means at least 55 to 60 per cent of channel share every single day.

There is a perception that Arnab Goswami is the face of the channel. Do you think dependence on one individual can backfire as a strategy?  

You look at any television news business across the world: news is always known by the people who deliver the news. Times Now is known for taking a stance. The stance is not taken by one person. The stance is taken by the entire channel and all through the day. News Hour is just one show in the entire day which Arnab does; there are 23 hours of content where there is no Arnab on the channel. The viewership comes across all the day. It’s just a perception. Perception and reality are two different things.

As a news organisation, how much is the focus on digital to drive conversations with your viewers?

That’s one of our focus points. We’re there on YouTube, Facebook and we’re constantly increasing our community. The channel is the curator; not the individual.

What is the roadmap for 2013 for all the three channels?

The roadmap is clear. We want to dominate every segment we’re in – whether it is Bollywood, English news or business news.

In case of Zoom, it started out being a lone ranger, and it’s got so much company now. Despite so much company it’s still going great guns. Many big networks have entered that particular segment, but none of them have able to sustain or hold on. Zoom is a channel available in 28 countries, the digital quotient of the channel is extremely high plus we syndicate our content to countries across the world. We produce content for Doordarshan.

For 2013, you announced a 100 per cent increase in ad rates for ET Now...

It’s very important to think like a market leader. We had history of trailing in market rates. There was a large gap between us and the competition. So we’ve narrowed the gap very significantly. There are a number of reasons that led us to take that decision. Content costs are going up, and we as a channel have been able to increase our viewership every year. We’ve expanded our viewership base. So there is no reason why we should not get the benefit of all that. So far, the response has been great.

We’ve also increased ad rates for Zoom and Times Now by 30 per cent each.


Campaign India

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